Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him"


The quote in the title come from the poet Ezra Pound. It's a fascinating definition. What are we waiting for? As Christians, we are indeed waiting for Christ, the one who frees us. Thus we're slaves of Christ, as St. Paul describes.

But what defines the person who is not waiting for anyone to free him? Hopeless. One could even call this person lifeless.

The issue is, do we look to situations and circumstances to rescue us from the feeling of restlessness and dissatisfaction we experience in front of any limited object? Or do we rather settle for something less -- for material comfort, for power, for the regard of others, from the dream of our own moral consistency?

In only one case is this point in the circle [the human being in the immensity of the cosmos], this single human being, free from the entire world, free, so that the world together and even the total universe cannot force him to do anything...This is when we assume that this point is not totally the fruit of the biology of the mother and father, not strictly derived from the biological tradition of mechanical antecedents but rather when it possesses a direct relationship with the infinite, the origin of all the flux of the world, of the whole “circle,” ... that is to say, it is endowed with something derived from God...So here is the paradox: freedom is dependence on God. It is a paradox, but it is absolutely clear. The human being – the concrete human person, me, you – once we were not, now we are, and tomorrow will no longer be: thus we depend. And either we depend upon the flux of our material antecedents, and are consequently slaves of the powers that be, or we depend on What lies at the origin of the movement of all things, beyond them, which is to say, God. (Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense, page 91)
If we are not waiting for God to free us, and yet we're still waiting and open, then we will indeed be slaves of whomever holds power -- be they peers with forceful personalities, overbearing supervisors, critics (if we're artists), popular opinion (if we're politicians), rules and regulations and even points of etiquette that define every sphere of life. Even the masters, in this scenario, are slaves.

2 comments:

Dcn Scott Dodge said...
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Dcn Scott Dodge said...

Yesterday I had something happen to me that was very upsetting, it is not a big thing, really, but it seemed large to me and still does this morning, though less so. I was determined, and I am still, to not surrender my freedom while living this set of circumstances. Rather, I see it as opportunity to be affirm the freedom given my by Christ. I am so thankful that I realized the inner dynamic of what was happening the moment I started to give in, to surrender my freedom, to go back to Egypt, even if interiorly, by reverting to old responses, the responses of a slave.

I needed this to be affirmed: only Christ can free me, only Christ liberates me from and allows me to face reality squarely and without fear. So, thank you. John 15:15-- "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you"

I also received an e-mail today from a former parishioner whom I have not seen in several years. She is struggling with a lot of things, including drugs, which she turned to after the collapse of her marriage. I cried as she told me that she knows Christ is with her even the darkness that envelopes her. She, too, is a slave waiting to be freed. Pray that she lets him release her from what binds her.

For several unforeseen reasons School of Community did not happen last evening. I was a bit bereft. So, I apologize for my prolific sharing.

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."